FOI/EIR EIR Section/Regulation

Regs 8(1) & 8(8)

Issue Charging for environmental information: a schedule of charges is a prerequisite
Line to take:

In order to charge applicants for environmental information under regulation 8(1), a public authority must first have published and made available to applicants a schedule of its charges, together with information as to when a charge will be made or waived.

Further Information:

The EIRs

Regulation 8(1) states:

Subject to paragraphs (2) to (8), where a public authority makes environmental information available in accordance with regulation 5(1) the authority may charge the applicant for making information available.

Regulation 8(8) states:

A public authority shall publish and make available to applicants –

  (a) a schedule of its charges; and

  (b) information on the circumstances in which a charge may be made or waived.

Regulation 8(1) is expressly subject to regulations 8(2) and 8(8). Regulation 8(8) requires a public authority to publish its charges and make them available to applicants, also providing details as to when a charge may be made or waived.

This reflects the provisions of the Aarhus Convention and of the Directive, which both state clearly that a public authority shall make available a schedule of charges which may be levied.

Further support

Further support for this approach was provided by the First-Tier Tribunal in Bickford-Smith v IC & RPA [EA2010/0032, 19 August 2010] at paragraph 79:

“ Since the RPA has not published and made available to the Appellant a schedule of charges, seeking to charge her for the information would not accord with regulation 8(8)”.

An additional point in support of this approach is that the provision of a schedule of charges gives the applicant an opportunity to consider the cost of their request before actually making it.

Line to take

Therefore it is clear that a public authority cannot charge for environmental information unless it has already published a schedule of its charges, together with information as to when a charge may be made or waived.

We would encourage authorities to do this as part of their publication scheme, keeping the information up to date, in line with their EIR duty progressively to make information available.

Source Details

FTT decision

European Directive

UN convention

Bickford-Smith v IC and Rural Payments Agency (DEFRA)

Council Directive 2003/4/EC Article 5(3)

Aarhus Convention Article 4(8)
Related Lines to Take

LTT1, LTT178

Related Documents
EA/2010/0032 (Bickford-Smith), Directive 2003/4/EC, Aarhus Convention
Contact VA
Date 11/03/2011 Policy Reference